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Columnist: Fleury was an “enabler” of sexual abuser

Dec 12, 2011, 5:30 PM EDT

Theoren Fleury AP

The Montreal Gazette’s Pat Hickey might’ve just bought himself a whole bunch of grief.

In a column titled “Theo Fleury hypocritical for blasting justice system’s handling of Graham James case,” Hickey takes dead aim at Fleury for failing to speak up sooner about being sexually abused by James.

Specifically, Hickey accuses Fleury of staying silent while both Fleury and James were co-owners of the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen.

Here was someone who had suffered abuse at the hands of Graham James. Here was someone who knew that James had abused other players. Here was someone who was exposing other children to the same sexual predator.

Fleury has been through enough counselling to know there’s a word for someone who acts in this fashion – enabler.

Hickey’s putting himself out there with this opinion. Blaming the victim in a sexual abuse case can be a perilous path for a columnist to take. Hope he’s prepared for the blowback.

  1. govtminion - Dec 12, 2011 at 6:04 PM

    It was only a week ago that I declared the “Ovechkin on steroids, but no proof” column the dumbest thing I’d ever heard from an NHL columnist.

    And here we are, a week later, and I’m already proven wrong. How to top this NEXT week? “Shane Doan is secretly a cannibal!”

    Sex abuse victims aren’t always big on stepping up and declaring to the world “I got molested! Look at me!”, particularly when you’re a high-profile person like an NHL star. To claim this crap is just disgusting. For shame on Hickey for printing this.

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Dec 12, 2011 at 6:16 PM

      Agreed. Making up news because you’re seeking attention is low but writing inflammatory and insulting news for likely the same reason is even lower

    • drewsylvania - Dec 12, 2011 at 6:18 PM

      Tell you what, Hickey–go get raped and then see how much *you* want to talk about it.

      Idiot.

  2. kingjoe1 - Dec 12, 2011 at 6:10 PM

    …he is from Montreal…that explains everything.

  3. somekat - Dec 12, 2011 at 6:43 PM

    I think I have to agree with the columnist on this one. Im’ sure I’ll get some blowback, but when it comes down to it, he obviously knew what this guy was about. I can understand not being up front with other people (not wanting to admit it happened or whatever). But to buy a junior hockey team co-owned by that scumbag, when you were victimized by that same scum bag, as a hockey player, in juniors, to me, fits the criteria of an enabler

    • davebabychreturns - Dec 12, 2011 at 7:55 PM

      I don’t know the particulars of the situation, and I’m guessing neither do you. The one thing I am sure of is that it is an enormously complex situation and that a person who has been abused sexually and emotionally by an authority figure over an extended period can see the world in a really messed up way as a result – look no further than David Frost and Mike Danton for proof.

      Anyway, blaming this on Theo Fleury is a bit ridiculous. Sure it would be nice if he had been able to come forward sooner and some of the things he did before doing so look very strange to those of us lucky enough to be unable to relate, but the fact of the matter is that we cannot relate.

  4. pens919209 - Dec 12, 2011 at 7:58 PM

    There are a multitude of reasons why a victim of sexual abuse would stay silent and remain active in the life of the abuser. Acts like this are predicated on the relationship that the abuser builds with the victim – before any abuse takes place. What seems like a clear-cut and easy decision to make from the outsider’s viewpoint (i.e. getting away and coming forward with what happened) is a gut-wrenching, terrifying, and probably at times impossible move for a victim to make. Hickey’s piece is so far off base that it’s not even in the base’s zip code.

    As for the ‘enabling’ comment Hickey makes – sexual predators don’t really require the services of enablers. They seem to be able to take part in their depravity without needing anyone to help them do it.

  5. klostes - Dec 12, 2011 at 10:46 PM

    Wow. Someone must be desperate for readers.

    As has been pointed out, until you’ve been there you cannot truly understand the power that this kind of abuse has in someone’s life. Those of us who have been there don’t even always understand it. Kennedy took over a year to decide he had to speak out; Fleury says in his autobiography that he had assumed those kids “made the same stupid choice” he’d made as a teenager. No, it’s not a rational thought process, but when you’ve been through what these men went through you don’t think rationally about this subject without some intensive therapy.

    Has Hickey read either of their books, or watched any of the interviews Fleury and Kennedy have done in the years since they both spoke publicly? They both react the same way to this question about why they bought in on the Hitmen with James: they knew he wouldn’t leave them alone until they gave in. As a young man, Kennedy was threatened at gunpoint when he tried to get James to leave him alone. Fleury’s best efforts couldn’t save him from James’s persistent advances and mental manipulation. James had controlled their hockey futures as youths; he continued to have an inordinate amount of influence in Kennedy’s life even as a professional. Fleury had barely escaped that same fate. It didn’t matter that those scared kids were now grown men; it didn’t matter that Fleury was a million dollar franchise player in the NHL.He states again and again in his autobiography just how “shit-scared” he was of James as a kid, and that scared kid’s experiences in the futility of resistance mattered far more in that situation than anything else. And wasn’t James still the darling coach of Canada’s Junior Hockey world at that time? Saying “no” could have required explanations that Fleury was nowhere near ready to give at that time.

    Sexual abuse is a powerful, pervasive form of damage with a inordinate share of shame and stigma in our culture; to stand outside the issue and point fingers at a survivor who is willing to stand out there and be an advocate for those who can’t yet, accusing him that “you should have done so and so,” is ridiculous at best and demonstrates an inexcusably egotistical and selfish lack of understanding at worst.

  6. TEC4 - Dec 13, 2011 at 10:07 AM

    How do you know that Theo Fleury didn’t do all he could to prevent Mr. James from getting to possible victims?

    And as far as not speaking out — the damage caused by this kind of abuse is terrible. Why are you not jumping on all the kids attacked by priests, who kept their silence despite the continuing presence of those priests in their parishes? Or the children allegedly victimized by Jerry Sandusky who didn’t speak up even though he continued to run youth camps with access to more alleged victims?

    Absent having been a victim of sexual abuse, I don’t think you can appreciate the pain and shame. You can’t understand where Theo Fleury and all the others like him are coming from, much less be in a position to pass judgment. Shame on you, Mr. Hickey.

  7. brad008 - Dec 14, 2011 at 7:59 PM

    Fleury and James were not co-owners, but rather two of 18 INVESTORS (including Joe Sakic, and Brett Harte).

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